As Administration Decides On Keystone, U.S. Experiences Two Tar Sands Spills This Week

One week after the Senate held a symbolic vote in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, the U.S. saw two different oil spills involving Canadian tar sands crude oil.

An ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured Friday, leaking approximately 10,000 barrels of tar sands crude in an Arkansas town. As a result, 22 homes have been evacuated as officials clean up of the world’s dirtiest oil:

Exxon shut the Pegasus pipeline, which can carry more than 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil from Pakota, Illinois, to Nederland, Texas, after the leak was discovered on Friday afternoon, the company said in a statement.

The Keystone XL pipeline would carry almost nine times the barrels of oil as the Pegasus pipeline.

The first oil spill came Wednesday, when a train reportedly carrying tar sands oil spilled 15,000 gallons in Minnesota. Also this week, Exxon was hit by a $1.7 million fine for a pipeline that dumped 42,000 gallons of oil in the Yellowstone River in 2011 (the fine itself is a small hinderance for a company that earned $45 billion profit last year).

As one of the companies to profit from Canadian tar sands, Exxon often takes to its blog to defend its so-called safety. Big Oil lawmakers then repeat those myths despite evidence to the contrary. On Friday, the same day as Exxon’s oil spill, Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) claimed the pipeline is a “no-brainer” and passes environmental “muster.” The State Department recently issued a draft report claiming the pipeline will have no environmental impact, authored by a contractor with extensive ties to oil companies.

50 Responses to As Administration Decides On Keystone, U.S. Experiences Two Tar Sands Spills This Week

  1. Delta Communications says:

    Drill Baby Drill.

  2. Bel Campbell says:

    The AK pipeline can carry dilbit; that much has been established.

    Despite allusions in several articles, I’ve still not seen direct reporting on what actually spilled in AK: was it “normal” crude, or was it dilbit?

    (dilbit = diluted bitumen)

  3. Lorrie says:

    “no environmental impact”…yeah right…

  4. Terry L Hanger says:

    Drill, baby drill, we have learned how to clean up spills. It will be a very important to give the jobs to many people. The US is a sinking ship and jobs give people hope.

  5. Russ Brewer says:

    Think prgress should really become another issue’s moneky on their back. Trying to get people upset about keystone is sort of dumb. We will still unlock the carbon in the Canadian tar sands with or without it. Thw only way we won’t is if the people stop demanding dirty energy. Why doesn’t think progress rail about how many people coupd afford to switch energy sources but dont? Or critisize our leaders for not making alternative energy research and development our generation’s moon landing?

    If you guys have an agenda, albeit a noble one, be smart about how you frame issues and deliver real solutions to problems.

  6. Bob Scofield says:

    To put it into perspective, fining someone (corporations are people, my friend) who makes $45 billion a year $1.7 million is like fining someone who makes $50,000 a year $1.89.

  7. looselyhuman says:


    If y’all don’t need us to push your dirty crap onto the world, why fight so hard for KXL? Give it up and go a different route, since you have so many options.

    You protestations actually affirm what is already known by the movement, no KXL and more of this stuff will stay in the ground.

  8. catman306 says:

    Here’s a link to the AK oil spill coverage with a video. Oil gushing down a driveway and along a street. 40 homes evacuated. There’s updated coverage at THV11.

  9. Lois Payette says:

    It makes no difference wether it was “normal” crude or “dilbit”, what does matter is the fact of lack of safety and the multitude of spills in the last ten years! Until an “Independent” and I mean not connected with big oil in any way, conducts a study, gets the facts and informs congress and the public of the truth, there should be NO APPROVAL of the Keystone XL pipeline! However, the caveat here is that no matter what the public wants, Congress will give it all away to the petroleum companies!

  10. irrefudiate says:

    All the argument is whether or not a Keystone leak will do severe harm to the water table or the flora and fauna. While this is an important consideration, it is actually a purposeful misdirection of the problem with the very idea of a Keystone. It is not “all good” if Keystone happens to not leak. But, then, everyone knows this already.

  11. Alex P says:

    Are you saying this blog doesn’t discuss potential solutions as well? We can talk about rapid deployment till we’re blue in the face and it only does so much good in the context of a gridlocked government.

    Addressing demand should certainly be a main focus, but allowing the ‘accelerated’ development of the tar sands/making it easier to profit from them isn’t at all helpful. Absent a carbon tax & dividend program, we’re simply giving the can another kick down the road by expanding dirty supply.

    Maybe KXL won’t be the death knell of the effort to avoid destructive climate change, but it’s currently one of the movement’s few rallying points. One that will be symbolic of how serious society is about putting the future before short-term corporate profits.

  12. facts lean left says:

    Terry Hanger, killing people with poison isn’t going to help anybody.

  13. Jackie says:

    2005 the Bush Administration approved Drilling with no regulations but the case was appealed. As the Court stated no regulation but reports to the government would be secret. Obama took office and the horror of the BP Gulf Spill. Obama called for a review. But Lawmakers and Americans demanded the drilling continue. Obama set regulations for safety as he approved for drilling. ExxonMobil violated that order and we see the results with more to come. Now the oil companies have to get Lawmakers to stop and prosecution and lawsuits for this violation. As Romney said he would allow drilling with no regulations as it was already approved by the Bush Administration.

  14. Leif says:

    Not any job, only Green Jobs can start to move the economies of the world out of the morass. As long as capitalism has the ability to profit, handily I would add, from polluting the commons, every “Black” job just digs the hole deeper. Only green jobs ADD VALUE to the economy and start to rejuvenate Earth’s life support systems as well as the economy via energy from the renewable sector.
    Corporations are “People” now for better or worse. Speaking as a “Real People”, if I throw a paper cup out the car window, bingo, ~$100 fine. ($1,000 in Alaska.) Corpro/People can pollute the air, water, dirt, and oceans with Toxins and the dirtiest Corpro/People have become richest Corpro/People in the world and the foundation of Western Capitalism. Still Corpro/People get rich and even subsidized with YOURS & MY TAX MONEY. And I cannot stop it. GOP don’t fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. How come I must fund the Ecocide of Earth’s life support systems? Go figure. Please help! Stop profits from the pollution of the commons…. PLEASE…

  15. Me says:

    Idk, dead people means more jobs, right!? >.>

  16. Rick Drake says:

    Really?! There is NO technology in existence today that is able to clean up a tar sand spill. I know you hate facts, being a teapug, but if you want to post your research on this, please, do so!

  17. JerBear says:

    Terry Lee described himself perfectly- a no brainer! Must be a Sarah Palin clone…drill, baby, drill!

  18. Brooks Bridges says:

    You ARE laying on the sarcasm heavily, right?

    Until I read the other two comments that was my assumption.

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I reckon that ‘dilbit’ just cries out to be made into a term of reproach (alright, abuse)as in ‘He is such a……dilbit!’ I can think of a plethora of worthy recipients.

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    We live in the Mendacocene Age- the epoch of the Big Lie.

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Not if the jobs are low-paid, precarious, come without health insurance etc, while the rich plutocrats for whom you work, wax richer by the second. Those sorts of jobs foster resentment, impotent rage and despair-exactly as they are intended to do.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The psychotic Right despises any talk about ‘safety’, and any action to enforce it. As long as the disasters affect their eternal enemies, other people, the Rightist not only is totally indifferent, but actually draws a perverted pathological satisfaction from their superiority manifested in not being so affected by disaster. ‘Safety’ is, like everything else in the omniverse, just another commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. Hence the poor suffer most, as the Holy Market doth dictate.

  23. Desertman says:

    Yeah, right. That is why we’re still finding oil contamination from the Exxon Valdez disaster.

  24. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    “when we have poisoned the last river we will realise we cannot drink oil”

    Dilbit is so very toxic

  25. Kathy Kreg says:

    Documenting the largest inland oil spill in the US. 800,000 gallons of tar sand in a tributary to Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

  26. Gus J says:

    I live in this area… just drove from Little Rock to Conway (past the Mayflower spill). you can smell this (very strong) from about 10 miles away headed towards Mayflower.

    Oh, and we’ve had a lot of rain this week; many fields surrounding this area are/were borderline flooded… I wonder how far leaked oil actually traveled that Exxon, Emergency Mgmt aren’t considering.

  27. Artful Dodger says:

    Troll Alert: Right wing spelling syndrome.

  28. Artful Dodger says:

    … then making the fine tax-deductible. And giving you $4B a year in corporate welfare.

  29. Artful Dodger says:

    It actually makes quite a bit of difference, Lois. The benzene in diluted bitumen is highly toxic to humans even in miniscule quantities.

  30. Artful Dodger says:

    Worry about the dilutants, Gus. For example, benzene. Highly toxic, and the dilutants compose about 30% of the slurry. Dilbit is very different from conventional crude oil.

  31. As in Richard Dilbit Cheney?

  32. Nabil Al-Murabit says:

    I’m sorry, but it’s hard for me to give a damn about an oil spill in Arkansas. It’s a red state and they allowed it to run through their state and now they have to deal with the consequences. I hope they don’t expect the federal gubmint, i.e. the rest of us, to foot the bill for the clean up

  33. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Slightly OT, if I’ve interpreted that right, but our national TV is featuring a program tonight that shows how the Queensland govt used every dirty trick in the book, and probably more, to ensure that 2 huge contracts for fracking went ahead. You can probably see it on on Four Corners when you get up tomorrow. Opposition to fracking is coming from the people so get out there, ME

  34. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That would be the ‘Labor’ Government of Anna Bligh, a friend of Julia Gillard, the coal-miners’ friend (although they are very ungrateful). ‘Democracy without Choices’!

  35. clarence swinney says:

    President Promises
    check him out

    Promises income taxes for middle-class families will stay low permanently.
    That means we lose Payroll Tax Revenues. Less in Social Security Fund and borrow more.

    A bipartisan agreement to increase taxes on incomes over $250,000 and a combination of increased tax rates and reduced tax benefits.

    The Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and the new American Opportunity Tax Credit will stay in effect for at least the next five years.

    We will continue making investments that create jobs in domestic clean energy and innovation via the Production Tax Credit and the Research & Experimentation Tax Credit.

    There will be no cuts in Social Security Benefits, Medicare or Medicaid because the President stood strong against reducing our deficits on the backs of seniors, students, the poor and working families.

  36. Glen Etzkorn says:

    Spil, baby, spill.

  37. If I remember right ed markey put up a bill when the republicans and there drill baby drill crap were all the rage to keep all that keystone pipeline oil here in the US instead of shippin it offshore to china and other countries I belive the republicans said I dont think so let the free market decide so I dont think there that intrested in our energy future but how much money they can suck out of the oil industry

  38. Geoff says:

    If only there were an alternative to carrying the oil by train then maybe the Wednesday derailment and spill could have been avoided. Maybe some sort of tube that the oil could be pumped through?

  39. VeronikaS says:

    The U.S. Department of State is giving us until April 22 to comment, after which a final recommendation will be drawn up. Email to give your official comment.

  40. Merrelyn Emery says:

    No, ME

  41. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Sorry, you are right, it was 2010, ME

  42. Clean Water is the Earth’s life blood for All LIVING Creatures! Without it there will be no LIVING Creatures of any kind! If we continue to Contaminate and Pollute the Lakes, Rivers and Streams all will DIE!!! No we won’t be able to Purify the Oceans either they are already Polluted with Tanker OIL spills, Drilling Accident spills and Toxic Nuclear Waste water from Japans accident. We better take care of what Fresh Water We have left and STARTING NOW!! NOT TOMMORROW!! NOW!!

  43. charlie says:

    Let’s see… huge spill – lots of damage – no comment from the EPA … hmmm…

  44. marine 2 says:

    What emergency measures are in place for a possible Break, Sabotage or Rupture of this Pipe Line? How many gallons of Product are contained in a linear foot of Pipe? How many “Shut-off Valves” are in place? What is the distance between these “Shut-off Valves?”
    The potential for a BP type of spill on the land, instead of the water, is real! I would aver that nothing will prove more precisely the old Maxim: “What goes around, comes around” than the fact that what, we have, allowed to be Sprayed on our Crops, SPILLED ONTO OUR LAND -including the run-off from crops, Spewed into our Air, Buried in our Soil or Dumped into our waters, will soon be seen, smelt and tasted, in that order, as it comes back at us out of our spigots.
    Count on it!
    The potential for the survival of our environment is directly proportional to the, insatiable, sociopathic GREED of the “Special Interests” and their carte blanche to continue to Pollute, Deceive and then continue to Pollute.
    We are our Environment’s Keeper! If not us, WHO? Certainly not those who are Profiting from its Destruction! No mention has been made as to how much water it will take to process Two(2)Tons of Tar Sands. However, it is estimated that it takes Two(2) Tons of Tar Sands to produce just One(1) Barrel (32 Gallons) of Oil. You do the math: Producing the estimated 900,000 Barrels a Day X 2 Tons = Disaster!
    GREED is taking this Country down, down, down! If not soon curtailed, it will soon Wipe us all the hell out!

  45. The most important thing that we need to do is keep drilling and digging and fracking and pumping oil.

    If we were “stupid” and grew hemp to fuel our trucks, and used it’s stalks to distill ethanol for our cars, we would not just save the environment, but we’d no longer be funding foreign countries for products that, in reality, we never really needed, since we already grew our own fuel quite well for centuries before petroleum took over.

    So DRILL, BABY, DRILL!!! Foreign countries and Oil barons need YOUR money!

    PS: What we don’t use for fuel can be used for food, textiles, composite building materials, auto body panels, medicine, biodegradable plastics, biodegradable packaging, and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of other uses…learn a little about the safest, least costly, most environmentally sound, annually renewable option to oil here:

    Put our idled farmers back to work, on safer farms, and prepare for an economic recovery after the crash actually DOES hit home. (It really hasn’t hit US yet…not by a longshot!)

  46. GoUSA! says:

    Maybe the Pegasus pipeline built in the 40’s does not have the technology built into it to monitor for leaks. I would guess the Keystone pipeline would have that. And ol’ Warren Buffet has got to be smiling from ear to ear with purchasing BNSF since the number of carloads of oil has went from 9500 in 2008 to 234,000 in 2012.

  47. MarilynWelch says:

    Exxon not only stands to profit from tar sands bitumen, it has invested heavily in the tar sans mining in Alberta as part of the conglomerate Syncrude. This ecocide is a multi-national operation.

    In fact, they have big plans to expand their tar sands operations. From their pdf
    “Located 70 kilometers north of Fort McMurray is the Kearl oil sands project, jointly owned by Imperial Oil (operator) and ExxonMobil Canada. The Kearl project will eventually produce up to 345,000 bpd (initial development will produce more than 110,000 bpd),”

    Don’t believe any mention of “land reclamation” by the oil industry. They cannot replace the muskeg, the ponds, rivers and lakes, flora and fauna that are being destroyed. It took thousands of years to build that boreal forest landscape so a topping of sod will not recreate it.

    . Any demonstration against the pipeline makes investors nervous, so don’t stop demonstrating and writing.

  48. MarilynWelch says:

    According to one interview, most of the 22 victims want the industry to buy them out. They don’t want to return to their devastated neighbohood. The homes are only 5 years old and the home owners were not told about the proximity of the pipeline before they bought.

  49. nubwaxer says:

    leave that filthy sh!t in the ground or transport it across your own canadian land. what’s that, your people in canada strongly object? well, yea.